Amy Winehouse Death: When Social Media PR Goes Off the Rails
The news of Amy Winehouse’s death on Saturday no doubt triggered a range of emotions: Misery and grief among her family and relatives and sorrow and shock (although many will have anticipated it) for her fans. But, sadly, for some organisations who thrive off the Winehouse brand, sentiment was quickly overridden by the potential for big bucks.
Microsoft has come off the worst in trying to market the “Rehab” singer’s death. The computing company’s UK-based Xbox PR branch tweeted, “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Black’ over at Zune…”. After receiving enraged replies, @tweetbox360 was forced to backpedal, apologising for the “commercially motivated” tone of the tweet, presumably asserting that it was purely compassionate.
However, while Microsoft is feeling the brunt of a gross error in shamelessly marketing Amy Winehouse’s death, neither Apple nor Amazon can exactly claim to be perched high up on the moral pedestal. The iTunes Store has its own “Remembering Amy Winehouse” banner, while Amazon’s MP3 store has what at first seems like an obituary for the singer whose career was invested with drug addiction, but quickly sours into an unconvincing marketing pitch and a link to just about everything she ever released, vinyl and deluxe editions included.
Marketing the death of an icon is no new practice for any media organisation involved in music, print or whatnot. But now, in the era of Web 2.0 and social media, where companies are appealing directly to those who are willing to be appealed to, consumers don’t need to bear witness to the cold and emotionless marketing ploys in exploiting an artist’s death. Sure, everyone will want to use the “Winehouse” name to their marketing advantage now – in some respects, this article included – but if not done tastefully you risk coming across as the gleeful distant cousin who only turns up at a grandparent’s funeral because their name was on the will.
Tweetbox360’s Twitter feed wasn’t the only one having a bad day, however. Fans also lambasted the magazine Esquire, after its style blog implored its readers to “Meet the stylish man who inspired Amy Winehouse” via Twitter. The “stylish man” being Blake Fielder-Civil, Winehouse’s abusive ex-husband, who, the article maintains, “will be great, even if he’s still a bit fked up…”.
It’s one thing trying to market the music that made Amy Winehouse great and earned adoring fans the world over. It’s another when you try to market an article that glorifies the trendy clothes worn by the man who beat her and reportedly introduced her to the hard drugs that inevitably led to her death.
Picture courtesy of Indian Express
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